Bordering on magic realism

Between the genres of literature that ascribe to fantastical and realistic elements lies magic realism, which brings in a thread of magic to a narrative that is otherwise mundane or realistic.

Published: 29th October 2013 10:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2013 10:53 AM   |  A+A-

Between the genres of literature that ascribe to fantastical and realistic elements lies magic realism, which brings in a thread of magic to a narrative that is otherwise mundane or realistic.

Originating in Latin America and with the likes of D H Lawrence and Gabriel Garcia Marquez adapting it, there are no dearth of books that one can pick up. Here's listing some must-reads.

Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore is a metaphysical journey of epic proportions. Told from the point of view of a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who escapes his father’s home to find himself, and possibly also find his long lost mother and sister in the process, this book is a great way to acquaint oneself with one of the best magic realism authors of our generation.

Cats talk to people in this world, librarians turn into mothers, reality and dreams come together and it’s difficult to distinguish one from the other.

Patrick Suskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer tells the chilling story of an orphan with a perfect sense of smell, who grows up to become a perfumer par excellence, turning every scent and odour into a potion of exquisite perfume. He begins with oils and herbs, progresses to door knobs and tables, and finally chances upon the scent of a young virgin. His quest to attain her body and scent comprises the rest of the story. Suskind weaves in the real world of eighteenth century France and infuses it with an eerie pulse of a dark kind of magic. The result is not so much terrifying as it is horrifyingly beautiful.

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (TOATEOTL), which is also his latest full length novel, explores secret pasts and a childhood that has seen too much for its tender age. Short, magical and filled with innocence and the rare kind of bravery that comes with that innocence, TOATEOTL is a precious book. Monsters, fairies, witches and more run amok, but not once do you doubt their existence, as you read the seven year old protagonist’s account of a suicide gone terribly wrong and the dark forces that emerged out of that accident.

“I am haunted by humans.” This is how one of Markus Zusak’s best known books ‘The Book Thief’ ends. Narrated by Death, it tells the story of a young girl Liesel from Germany who is sent to a foster home with the coming of World War-II. Intriguing as Death seems like a passive observer witnessing an event, the story is devoid of any magical element other than the narrator and his experiences. While Death does not come across as cruel, it is impossible not to feel for Liesel faced with her losses.

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